Asus G70s review
There's been a flurry of Asus laptops landing on PC Pro's doorstep of late, but while last week saw the arrival of its compact Eee PC 900, the latest offering is the utter antithesis of the Eee's petite charms.
The G70s doesn't concern itself with portability, value for money or educational applications; it's big, brash, heavy enough to give even the beefiest of PC Pro's readers a nasty backache, and has not one but two graphics cards secreted inside its gargantuan proportions.
It was by sheer chance that the Asus G70s found itself sitting alongside Acer's giant-sized desktop replacement, the Aspire 8920G Gemstone Blue, but if we'd thought laptops couldn't get much bigger than Acer's Blu-Ray touting, 18.4in-screened monster, we were sorely mistaken.
In fact, Asus' G70s is so large that we'd hesitate to call it a laptop. Indeed, if it were to sprout four legs from its underside it would, literally, be a tabletop. But, cruel jibes aside, the G70s is undeniably impressive. Place it on a desk and, in addition to making most desks seem positively tiny, it stands a mighty six centimetres tall at its highest point (that's with the lid shut).
But it's not just physically imposing, it's also aesthetically striking too. The lid comes finished in brushed aluminium, flanked and highlighted by blue strip lights, and Asus' Republic of Gamers logo takes centre stage. Red lights illuminate the front corners and a thick, ugly grille at the rear belches out hot air and red light in equal measure.
It may be because we're looking at an early engineering sample, but not every aspect of the G70s build is so reassuring. Twin clasps help keep the lid firmly shut, but tilt that huge lid back on its hinges and it doesn't inspire confidence. You'd expect the aluminium to make for a stiff, solid lid but, instead, the lid has an unnerving amount of give in it.
The hinges struggle under its weight and just picking up the G70s is enough to make the display flop to and fro. Grapple with the laptop's base, however, and it's a different story entirely; we almost did ourselves an injury trying to coax any flex out of the G70s supremely stiff base.
But, at 4.7kg, the G70s isn't a laptop that's likely to ever leave the confines of a desk. As it happens, poor battery life precludes even the most Herculean of prospective owners from trying to game on the move anyway; sitting idle, the G70s lasted just 1hr 7mins.
It's disappointing that there isn't a more impressive roster of components to make up for the G70s' immodest size and weight, too. We assume Asus will be providing the G70s in several differently specified incarnations, but our pre-production model was a little underwhelming.
An Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 processor, 2GB of memory and a 300GB hard disk make up the core of the specification along with twin Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT graphics chips. The T8300 may not be top of the range but its 2.4GHz clockspeed and the ample 2GB of memory alongside it helped the G70s on to a score of 1.20 in our benchmarks - which isn't bad at all.
It's the graphics that are the problem. We think it's a shame Asus hasn't opted for one of Nvidia's far more capable 8800M chipsets, as the 8700M GT's 3D performance is decidedly underwhelming. Our least demanding Crysis benchmark was no challenge at all, but moving up to 1,280 x 1,024 resolution and medium detail saw the twin graphics cards struggle to a just-about playable 23 frames per second. Cranking the resolution up to 1,600 x 1,200 and high detail was simply too much for the G70s though, and it finished the test with a jerky, unplayable average of 9.5 frames per second.